From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The terms "blason", "blasonner", "blasonneur" were used in 16th century French literature by poets who, following Clement Marot in 1536, practised a genre of poems that praised a woman by singling out different parts of her body and finding appropriate metaphors to compare them with. It is still being used with that meaning in literature and especially in poetry.
The blason was first described and defined by Thomas Sébillet.
The genre reunites the eulogy for praise, and the satire (then called contreblason) for vilification of a being or an object. Most commonly, the object of the poem is the female body, or a part thereof, which has led many 21st century critics to consider the blason the first instance of fetishism in literature. The figurative "dismemberment" have led others to condemn the blason as antifeminist. The genre was revived in the twentieth century, when it was taken up by Paul Éluard (« Blason des fleurs et des fruits »), Georges Brassens (« Le Blason ») and André Breton (« Clair de terre »).
In the English language
Blason populaire is a phrase in which one culture or ethnic group increases its own self-esteem by belittling others eg. Samuel Johnson's description that "The noblest prospect which a Scotsman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!" The term originated from Alfred Canel's travelogue Blason Populaire de la Normandie (1859), in which people from Normandy boasted about themselves while sneering at other regions.
Petite anthologie du blason et du contre-blason
- Clément Marot, Blason du beau tétin, Blason du laid tétin, (1535).
- Maurice Scève, Le front (1536).
- Mellin de Saint-Gelais, Blason de l'oeil, (1547).
- Ronsard, " Marie, vous avés la joue aussi vermeille… ", (1555)
- Du Bellay, " O beaux cheveux d'argent… ", (1556)
- Pierre de Marbeuf, L'Anatomie de l'oeil, (1625)
- Paul Scarron, "Vous faites voir des os quand vous riez, Heleine..." (1610-1660)
- Paul Eluard, La Courbe de tes yeux, (1926)
- André Breton, L'Union libre, (1931)
- Georges Brassens, Le Blason, (1960-62)